Employing a PA: being an employer and automatic enrolment

By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for the North West

You might not realise it, but if you are disabled and employ a personal assistant (PA) then you are an employer. Just like Asda, the NHS or your local cornershop, this means you have responsibilities towards your employees (PAs) and they have rights which are protected by the law.

There are laws about being an employer that everyone has to follow, even if you only employ one person as your PA. If you want to learn more about being an employer, you can find EasyRead resources on the Skills for Care website.

From 1st October 2017, there is a new rule that all employers have to follow. The law is changing about how employers must help their employees plan for the future by saving in a pension. This is called automatic enrolment.

Automatic enrolment is a scheme to help more people, including PAs, save for their retirement. By 2018, all employers will have to enrol everyone who meets the criteria in a pension, unless their employee chooses not to.

Employees that have to be enrolled are people who:

  • Work in the UK
  • Do not already have a workplace pension
  • Are over 22 years old and under retirement age
  • Earn more than £10,000 per year. If they earn less than this but over £5,876 then they can ask to join and you can’t say no to them
  • Opted out of auto-enrolment 3 years ago – everyone has to be re-enrolled every 3 years even if they just choose to opt out again

You may have already got a letter from the Pensions Regulator about this. Everyone has to respond before the deadline so that they are still following the law.

What you need to do is:

  1. Choose a pension scheme
  2. Tell the government that you have done this

There are a number of pension schemes you can choose from, which you can learn about on the Pension Regulator website.

The government has a pension scheme called NEST which is free for employers to use. There are many other schemes you could choose which are run by private companies. Once you have chosen a pension provider, you can enrol on it yourself or ask someone else to help you.

supportMany people pay for their PA using a payroll service which talks to HMRC for them and manages lots of their responsibilities as an employer. Some of these companies can also deal with the Pensions Regulator for you or you can find another service which can deal with the Pensions Regulator for you. Ask your payroll service what they can help you with and check your Local Authority’s PA pensions guidance.

If you are unable to understand your responsibilities as an employer, then any additional costs of managing this should be included in your personal budget. You can ask your Local Authority or local direct payment support service for advice on this.

To find out more about getting a direct payment to employ a PA, read our factsheets on care funding and getting a budget.


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